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The meaning of the F-word: Being taken seriously

Roz Kaveney, poet and activist

I would like to see government agencies, including the police, obliged to take seriously the things women say about who they are and what has happened to them. So much of the oppression of women has to do with the belief that claims of rape and other sorts of abuse and persecution are convenient lies. Yet, so much of the time, telling the truth about these things is the hardest thing a woman has ever had to do. Immigration officials who refuse to believe that a lesbian has been repeatedly subjected to "corrective" rape by her father; police who don't believe that a woman is in danger from her partner or family – the frequent presumption that she has lied adds both injury and insult to what happened to her in the first place.

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This article first appeared in the 12 March 2012 issue of the New Statesman, The weaker sex